Archive for May, 2011

Maintaining a website

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

If you are serious about what you do, you really need a website. If you are technically savvy, you can create a new website in a day. Now, it will probably take longer if you want to make a good website, complete with pictures of your work, and content that will both help people find you and decide to book you for their event. If you are not technically savvy, find someone who can build and help you maintain your website. Once your website is up and running, it is all to easy to move on to another project and forget about it.

Personally, I think that one of the most important things about a website is that it is up to date. I have visited way too many websites that list an “upcoming event” that is a year or more ago. I guess that event didn’t go well and they are now out of business… More likely, the event went well and they just don’t have time to think about and update their website.

I have several personal websites and I manage the websites for several groups. It takes me time to get around to updating all of those websites. I have linked a few websites to facebook, and since facebook is easier to update, the net effect is that the website also has access to newer content. I know that I am not following my own advice because I have told many people that facebook should send people to your website and not the other way around. I am taking the easy route and using my website to lead people to facebook.

In an ideal world, every month, you should review your website to make sure it is up to date and selling your services. If it isn’t, make the needed changes.

You should also check out your competition. What do you like or not like about their websites? Are there ideas that you can use to improve your own website. Please don’t steal their content, but use it as inspiration.

If you haven’t visited your own website in a while, go take a look and see what needs updating.

Dressing the part

Friday, May 27th, 2011

What should a face painter or balloon twister wear to an event? When I go to jams, I will often wear a fun character t-shirt and a goofy hat. But for bigger events, I don’t want to look like the average person on the street.

Last year, I had one event where I was specifically told NOT to wear shorts and that my shirt needed a collar. I have actually considred finding a formal looking outfit for the higher end events, but don’t want to look like the catering crew.

Some events, I were my pair of green and white striped overalls from Game Bibs. Game Bibs targets the college sports fan and makes striped bib overalls in most college team colors. At most events, I will wear my custom designed pair of Converse shoes. Converse has a variety of shoes that can be customized by choosing the colors for each piece of canvas or leather used to make the shoe.
Design Your Own Converse Shoes

I am always on the lookout for something fun to wear. I find that the websites that sell face paint and balloon supplies seem to offer more shirts and accessories for women. I am also considering getting a custom embroidered

Balloons – inside or outside

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

When doing balloons, I generally prefer to work inside. Sure, working inside provides protection from the weather, but it also helps the balloons.

For the most part, surfaces are smoother indoors. Outside, balloons can pop when they come in contact with leaves and grass; concrete and bricks; and a variety of other rough surfaces. Also, on a sunny day, a dark colored surface (especially metal or pavement) can get very hot. These conditions all present popping hazards for balloons.

In addition to issues related to rough surfaces, changes in temperatures can also cause the balloons to pop. The air inside a balloon will expand or contract when exposed to changes in temperature which could lead to popping. After one winter event, I was wearing a balloon hat when I left a gig and walked about 100 yards outside in the cold. When I got inside again, my balloon was about 10-20% smaller. Going from a cool indoor space to a hot outdoor space can have the opposite effect where the balloon will expand 10% and risk popping. I have also noticed that if I make sample balloons in the morning, they will start to spontaneously pop a few hours later when the temperature has risen 10-15 degrees.

When I do balloons, I try to take into account the surrounding conditions. On a hot day, I will try to make the balloons a little softer. I will also try to make smaller balloons like hats or bracelets that are less likely to pop or come into contact with rough surfaces.

I know that I cannot guarantee that a balloon will NOT pop, but if I do my part, I can increase the chance that the balloon will last until the kids make it home.

Butterfly and Insect Jokes

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

When I am at a restaurant, birthday party, or other event, I like to interact with the kids beyond just asking them what they want. Sometimes I will ask about school or some recent event/holiday. Other times, I will try to make a silly comment about their request.

I have watched other entertainers doing shows or interacting with kids. They seem to have comments or jokes for just about any situation. I know this comes from experience and knowing what worked in the past. Since I haven’t been doing this as long as others, I am still building my list of jokes. During the past year, I have purchased several books of jokes and riddles. Although I have looked through the book, I haven’t done a good job of finding ones that I use on a regular basis.

I am going to try to compile a list of jokes related to various things related to the popular balloon and face painting designs. Today, I will begin with jokes about butterflies and other insects. The butterfly is one of the most popular faces for little girls and is also an easy balloon to make. When a kid asks for a butterfly, I will often call it a “flying stick of butter” and ask what type of toast they like best.

Here are some of the better jokes I found on the Internet.

Q. Why did the butterfly?
A. Because it saw the ice-cream float.

Q. Why wouldn’t they let the butterfly into the dance?
A. Because it was a moth ball!

Q. Why did the boy throw butter out the window?
A. Because he wanted to see a butter-fly!

Q. What goes zzub, zubb?
A. A bee flying backwards!

Q. What do you say to an annoying beetle?
A. Stop bugging me!

Q. What bug isn’t allowed in the boys’ bathroom?
A. A lady bug

Kids like simple balloons

Monday, May 16th, 2011

It seems that most balloon twisters start by learning the basic dog balloon and then move on to bigger and “better” balloons. I think it is good to learn how to make a variety of balloons and to have options from something simple to something a little fancier.

I have kids ask me all of the time, “What is the most difficult thing you can make?” That is a hard question to answer. The truth is that unless they are the only person there and I have all of the time needed, I wouldn’t consider making it. Yesterday, when faced with that question, I pulled out two balloons, twisted them together and added a head to make an alien hat (two lime green 260s and a green alien head) for a young boy. I upgraded the design by using a clear round balloon around the alien head and he was simply amazed.

Turtle, bee and ladybug balloon bracelets

While it might be fun to make big and fancy balloons. I find that three of the simpliest balloons I learned how to make are still very popular when offered. They are the tiny bracelets made to look like a turtle, bee, or ladybug. (Each is made by inflating about 5 inches of a 260 balloon and twisting a series of bubbles for the head and legs and using the rest of the balloon for the body.) After learning these, friends showed me how to make fancier versions, but those versions cannot be worn as a bracelet. I have been at events were kids start collecting the balloons and keep coming back for just one more. Eventually, they start wanting blue turtles or purple ladybugs so they have something their friends don’t.

While I know that there are fancier versions of the turtle or ladybug that can be made using 3-4 balloons, I am sure I will continue to make the simple versions by the dozen.

Hosting a Jam

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

When face painters or balloon twisters get together, they like to have a jam. A jam is an opportunity to practice, share tips and techniques, and see how others work. I highly recommend participating in jams whenever possible.

One unfortunate thing about face painting and balloon twisting is that there isn’t a central organization for the face painters and balloon twisters to belong to and as a result, there are very few chartered groups. Since the groups are not formal, they often do not have websites or other ways to find out about them without knowing someone who belongs to the group. Clowns have their local clown alley, magicians have their local magic ring, and jugglers have their local juggling clubs. There are also fewer conventions dedicated to just face painting or just balloon twisting. Since I am also a clown, most of my training comes from the face painting or balloon twisting sessions at the clown conventions.

When I was getting started, I was lucky enough to find out about a local face painting jam. The jam met once a month in a local restaurant. Going to that jam provided me with an opportunity to network with other face painters in the area and learn about other jams. Unfortunately for me, the format of the jam didn’t provide me the opportunity I needed to really practice face painting. That led me to seek out other groups.

At the end of 2009, I started to host my own jams. I went to my local Cici’s pizza and spoke to the manager and told him about the other jams I have attended and asked if I could host a monthly jam. He agreed and we have been going there ever since. Having the jam at a popular family restaurant can be a win-win solution. The restaurant gets the benefit of having entertainment for their customers with kids, and the face painters and balloon twisters have kids faces to paint or give balloons.

After finding a location, my next step is finding other face painters or balloon twisters to attend the jam. I decided to have a joint jam for both face painters and balloon twisters. I was fortunate to have a network of friends and told them to invite their friends. Like most groups, we are informal, I maintain an email list that contains people who have attended the jam in the past and a facebook group to share news, pictures, and other information.

My jams are an opportunity for us to get together each month and socialize and practice. Although, I have tried to set themes, it usually becomes a free for all with people doing whatever they want. There are usually kids at Cici’s, so we have a chance to interact and give away our extra balloons.

Not all jams are the same. Some people host jams that are more like a mini workshop with a theme and presenter. Others offer time for each person to do a show and tell session where they can share their discoveries or ask questions. Mine are a time to practice. As host, I can run the jam the way that I want and if others like it, they will continue to come.

TAG One Stroke Videos

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

I have been using the rainbow cakes for butterflies for a while, but that is about the only split or rainbow cake that I have used. After seeing these two videos, I think I need to try out the TAG paints and their one stroke designs.

The first is a great dragon face on a young boy. It starts with a base coat of orange and yellow and then adds in the dragon split cake.

This shows three butterflies. Each begins with a base coat over the eyes and then one of the split cakes for the edge of the butterfly wings.

How long will my balloon last?

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

People always want to know how long a balloon creation will last. Sometimes, it seems like they only last a few minutes. Balloons last longer indoors. The outdoors have too many sharp edges from plants and concrete. When I do balloons, I try to take into account the conditions and try to make the balloons a little softer when working outside or on very hot days. But, sometimes, the balloons just seem to pop. Usually, the kid is swinging it around or trying to prove they know how to make balloons and put a few extra twists in the balloons.

But, if a balloon happens to survive long enough to make it home safely, it can last for days or weeks. I do get a few kids who come back and tell me they still have the balloon I gave them a few weeks ago.

From time to time, I bring balloon home and deposit them in my basement where they will remain, undisturbed for weeks at a time. I found a few balloons in my basement and decided to prove that balloons can last a long time.

Deflated monkey in a palm tree

Monkey in a palm tree…

New monkey in a palm tree

or how it would have looked when it was brand new.

Deflated dragon


New dragon balloon

or how it would have looked when it was still a new balloon.

Disney Pirate Face Painting

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

The Pirates League at Walt Disney World gives a great presentation on transforming a young boy into a pirate.

Fun butterfly face painting

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Here are two YouTube videos that show girls having their faces painted like butterflies.